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Shohei Ohtani’s 35th home run, Jaime Barria’s seven-inning start guide Angels past Twins 6-2

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Shohei Ohtani hit his 35th home run in the Angels' 6-2 win on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Live updates from the Angels series finale against the Twins

Angels observations: Ohtani’s 35th home run, Barria’s bounceback day and Stassi’s three hits key win over Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — Shohei Ohtani entered Sunday still trying to shake off his slow start to the second half of the season. Through the game’s first inning, Jaime Barria also looked shaky after giving up back-to-back home runs.

But by the end of the Angels’ 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, a victory that clinched a series victory and got the team back to .500 on the season at 49-49, both players seemed to be back on track.

Barria matched a career-long start by pitching seven innings, not surrendering another run the rest of the game while striking out four.

Ohtani, meanwhile, continued to show encouraging signs at the plate, collecting two hits for a second straight game including a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning — his MLB-leading 35th of the year.

There were other contributors too: Max Stassi had three RBI on three hits, coming up a double shy of the cycle. Brandon Marsh scored two runs and drove in one. Jack Mayfield also had an RBI double and made a couple more impressive plays defensively at third base.

And the Angels’ bullpen held up, with Steve Cishek protecting a one-run lead in the eighth before the lineup piled on three insurance runs in the ninth.

Here are three observations from Sunday.

Ohtani heating up

After getting an off day on Friday following a 4-for-24 stretch at the plate coming out of the All-Star break, Ohtani looked like his old self at the plate again this weekend.

On Saturday, he had two doubles. On Sunday, he had an infield single in the first inning, then delivered the blast go-ahead in the sixth, a scorched line drive that landed in a pavilion beyond the right-field seats and gave the Angels their first lead of the day.

According to MLB’s Statcast system, the ball left his bat at 112.6 mph and traveled a projected 414 feet, not only extending Ohtani’s major-league lead in homers — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is next-closest with 32 — but also moving him into a tie for third in RBIs with 75.

“He just always responds,” Maddon said of Ohtani’s performance this weekend. “He likes the spotlight, he likes the big moment.”

When Ohtani was intentionally walked in his last at-bat, the Twins (42-58) putting him aboard with a base open and two outs in the eighth inning, some of the home fans even booed.

“I was booing too,” Maddon joked. “But it was the right move.”

Ohtani will now take the mound on Monday night against the Colorado Rockies. Maddon said he expects the two-way star will likely also hit in the game.

Barria bounces back

In his first MLB start since last September, Barria’s day couldn’t have begun any worse.

Max Kepler went yard to lead off the first inning, blasting a solo shot to right a pitch after he had just hooked another long drive foul. In the very next at-bat, Brent Rooker launched a hanging first-pitch slider to the third deck in left.

“We’ve had that happen,” Maddon said. “But our young starters are really understanding, one bad moment doesn’t ruin your entire day.”

Indeed, Barria was almost flawless the rest of the game. He retired his next six batters, stranded a baserunner in each inning between the third and sixth, then finished off the seventh inning in order.

A big key: Barria’s fastball velocity. His four-seamer, which he threw more than half the time in a 95-pitch outing, averaged 94.1 mph — almost two mph faster than any of his previous 44 MLB starts.

“The triple A [coaching staff] has been helping me out a lot,” Barria said through an interpreter. “I felt good out there.”

Added Maddon: “I’ve not seen him pitch like that ... When I started seeing 94, 95 [mph], that’s territory I haven’t seen from him.”

The performance could make Barria a factor in the Angels’ pitching plans moving forward, too.

While the 25-year-old was only called up Sunday so that the Angels could give Ohtani an extra day of rest, he could be an option if the Angels go back to a six-man rotation, or if Alex Cobb is unable to make his next start because of a blister (Maddon said the team should know more about Cobb’s status on Monday).

“You always want to reward moments like that, when people have earned the right to be here,” Maddon said. “So we’ll talk about it.”

Stassi’s first triple

Stassi also had one of his best games at the plate Sunday, coming up one hit shy of the cycle for the second time this season.

This time, Stassi began his day with a triple — the first of his career — on a drive to the right-center field wall that ricocheted off Twins outfielder Jake Cave and drove in the Angels’ first run of the day.

“I was well aware,” Stassi said of having never previously tripled in the majors. “When I saw it kick off the wall, or whatever happened out there, I just turned the jets on.”

Stassi homered in his next at-bat, a solo shot that hooked just inside the left-field foul pole and tied the game at 2-2.

In the eighth, he chipped in again with an RBI single, lifting his on-base-plus-slugging percentage on the season back over .900.

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Shohei Ohtani hits 35th home run

MINNEAPOLIS — Shohei Ohtani had been struggling a bit earlier this week. But, after collecting two doubles on Saturday, Ohtani continued to heat up on Sunday with a solo home run in the sixth inning.

Facing Minnesota Twins reliever Danny Coulombe, Ohtani clobbered a hanging slider for his MLB-leading 35th home run of the year. According to MLB’s Statcast system, the ball left Ohtani’s bat at 112.6 mph and traveled a projected 414 feet. It was his second home run since the All-Star break, and seventh in the month of June.

Ohtani also now has 75 RBIs, tied for third-most in the majors.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is second on the MLB home run leaderboard with 35. Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only other player with at least 30.

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It was indeed Mike Trout, not Albert Pujols, on the phone with Shohei Ohtani at home run derby

MINNEAPOLIS — No, that wasn’t Albert Pujols on the phone with Shohei Ohtani in the middle of the home run derby earlier this month.

As was originally reported, the mid-round phone call Ohtani took at Coors Field — which was captured by ESPN’s television broadcast during Ohtani’s appearance in the derby — was indeed from Mike Trout, an Angels team official confirmed Sunday.

Confusion over the moment had come up this weekend after Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner claimed in a podcast that it was Pujols, not Trout, who called Ohtani in the middle of the round.

Pujols did call Ohtani later in the event, before one of Ohtani’s other trips to the plate in his first-round tie-breaking loss to Juan Soto. But it was Trout on the other end of the line when teammate Jared Walsh brought a phone up to Ohtani at the plate during his timeout, a scene that widely shared on social media afterward.

“I was gassed, I couldn’t remember fully,” Ohtani said through his interpreter that night when asked what Trout had said. “But I think he said, ‘Just relax and be yourself.’”

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Mike Trout to have calf checked in follow-up visit with doctor on Monday

Mike Trout has been out since mid-May with a right calf strain.
Mike Trout has been out since mid-May with a right calf strain.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS — Injured Angels center fielder Mike Trout will have a follow-up visit with the team’s doctor on Monday to determine where he’s at in his recovery from a right calf strain that has kept him out since mid-May.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said the team is hoping to have a better idea of Trout’s timeline after that.

Maddon described the visit as a “routine follow-up” but did acknowledge that Trout has still felt something in his calf during some rehab drills.

“It’s something that he feels, but it’s not awful,” Maddon said. “We’re just waiting to hear from the doc.”

Trout, who went on the road with the team this week, has not worked out on the field since Friday, though Maddon downplayed the notion that it has anything to do with his upcoming checkup.

“It’s not like he’s going there [to see the doctor] because there’s anything wrong,” Maddon said. “We just got to find out everything that Mike’s feeling, where the doctor believes that puts him. I don’t even know if there’s going to be a test on that, like a scan of some sort that indicates the amount of healing that’s transpired. All those things will happen tomorrow, and I want to believe we’ll have a better feel at that point.”

Maddon said Trout has felt the sensation in his calf when he “tries to move quickly” during drills.

“We don’t want him to hurt it again, so you really want to make sure it’s totally healed before you push it to that level,” Maddon added. “He definitely feels something, but not all the time. That can just be normal, routine stuff. That’s what we’re waiting to hear from the doc.”

Trout has been out since hurting his calf running the bases on May 17, making Sunday the 58th straight game he has missed since then.

Trout has been gradually increasing his workload in recent weeks and was seen running the bases and going through some outfield agility drills during this road trip. He has also been taking swings in batting practice, though Maddon has said full-speed running will likely be the last hurdle for Trout to clear before he can go out on a rehab assignment.

“This is just ongoing,” Maddon said. “If you’ve ever pulled a leg muscle, this is how it works.”

Before getting hurt, Trout was batting .333 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs and an on-base-plus-slugging of 1.090. This year is the first time in his career he has missed more than 50 games because of an injury.

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Jaime Barria to start Sunday; Alex Claudio designated for assignment

MINNEAPOLIS — Jaime Barria will make his first start of the season on Sunday, as the Angels try to take three of four from the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Sunday will only be Barria’s third appearance this season, after he made a couple relief outings in April and May. In Class AAA Salt Lake, the 25-year-old right-hander had a 4.41 ERA in 10 starts this year.

In a corresponding move, Alex Claudio was designated for assignment. Claudio, an offseason acquisition the Angels hoped would bolster their bullpen, struggled in 41 appearances, posting a career-high 5.51 ERA.

Here’s the Angels full lineup for Sunday:

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Patrick Sandoval flirts with no-hitter, continues his transformation

Patrick Sandoval
The Angels’ Patrick Sandoval took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning but gave up a one-out double.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

Patrick Sandoval softly smiled and waved his glove, his forceful stare and heavy breaths suddenly replaced by a soft chuckle and reluctant peace.

The last two years, the Angels left-handed pitcher struggled in abbreviated big league stints. This year, he began the season at the club’s alternate training site. But over the last two months, the 24-year-old has experienced a career transformation.

And on Saturday night, he found himself on the precipice of history.

Sandoval, a Mission Viejo native, carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning of the Angels’ 2-1 win against the Minnesota Twins, racking up 13 strikeouts while trying to throw just the 10th individual no-hitter in team history.

But with one out in the final inning, Twins designated hitter Brent Rooker broke it up, slicing a first-pitch slider the other way for a double down the right-field line.

As the ball floated beyond the infield and landed just inside the chalk, Sandoval snapped his head back in disappointment but then relented with a lighthearted grin, the totality of his landmark night — and the latest step in his breakthrough season — immediately beginning to set in.

“It’s not even something I’ve dreamt of. That was just insane,” Sandoval said of the near no-hitter. “To be able to actually be in there, to go into the ninth inning with two outs to get, it was pretty surreal.”

The Angels' Patrick Sandoval gives up a double to the Twins' Brent Rooker in the ninth inning.
The Angels’ Patrick Sandoval looks back after giving up a one-out double to the Twins’ Brent Rooker in the ninth inning, ending his no-hit bid.
(Stephen Maturen / Getty Images)

Sandoval retired his next batter before being taken out in favor of Raisel Iglesias, who gave up an RBI double but then secured the 2-1 win with a strikeout of Miguel Sanó.

Iglesias pointed to the sky in celebration of his 21st save. But it was Sandoval, from the postgame handshake line to the video news conference afterward, who was the center of attention.

“He was just magnificent,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “You could see that from early on.”

Indeed, through the first eighth innings of the night, Sandoval never really came close to giving up a hit.

Highlights from the Angels’ 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night in Minneapolis.

He retired the side in order in the first and third innings and worked around a walk in the second and hit-batter in the fourth.

He was aware of the Twins’ hit total from the start — “I looked up at the scoreboard after every inning, I knew what was happening,” he said — but didn’t begin to truly notice the significance of the moment until teammates stopped coming near him in the dugout, leaving him all alone at the far end of the bench.

“As the game went on, everyone in the dugout just got further and further away,” he said with a laugh, adding: “All of a sudden, I got shunned.”

His best inning was perhaps the fifth, when shortstop José Iglesias committed a throwing error in the opening at-bat that Sandoval immediately answered with three straight strikeouts — blowing a fastball by Ryan Jeffers, spinning a slider to freeze Trevor Larnach and battling back from a 3-0 hole against Gilberto Celestino to end the inning with a swing-and-miss changeup.

For Maddon, it was the clearest sign of Sandoval’s growth over the last several seasons, from an inconsistent pitcher prone to frustration into a confident hurler who calmly handled the biggest moment of his career.

“He kept his composure and came back and made really good pitches,” Maddon said. “That stood out to me. … He did everything right.”

Angels minor league players gave a “deeply disturbing” description of life in the minors, which an advocacy group says needs to be addressed.

Those kinds of moments have come in abundance this year for Sandoval, who was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in 2015 before being traded to the Angels three years ago for Martín Maldonado.

After posting a 1-9 record and 5.33 ERA over his first two seasons in 2019 and 2020, he pitched well in spring training this year, was called up in early May and, after making his first start May 17, has remained in the rotation ever since.

At first, he was starting in place of an injured Alex Cobb. On May 27, he made a spot start in Oakland on the day Shohei Ohtani was late to the game after taking the BART subway. Then, after continuing to pitch well while José Quintana was hurt, Sandoval became a full-time rotation member last month — Quintana has since moved to the bullpen — and has looked more comfortable with each new appearance, lowering his ERA to 3.52 on Saturday.

In the game against Oakland, when he had only a couple hours to prepare following Ohtani’s transportation issues, he pitched five scoreless innings.

In his next game, he induced what was then an MLB season-high 32 swings-and-misses against the Seattle Mariners over six innings.

During the Angels’ six-game winning streak in June, he had a tradition of delivering the scorecard to umpires at home plate before first pitch — including in a game he pitched six innings and gave up two runs.

And only once has he given up more than three runs in a start, when he surrendered four earned and six total to the Mariners last week while still managing to complete seven innings.

A self-described ‘streaky’ pitcher, the Angels’ Andrew Heaney found rhythm and confidence during a seven-inning outing against the Minnesota Twins.

Maddon referred back to that outing Saturday, calling Sandoval’s ability to work deep after a couple bumpy early innings a growth moment in his ever-auspicious development.

“I think that’s part of why he was able to do what he did today. ... If you want a young pitcher to develop mentally — I’m not even talking physically, but mentally — you’ve got to let him out there for a bit. That’s what I think was a residue from his last time out. He keeps getting better. And I know his confidence is sky high.”

It looked that way as the pressure mounted in the final four innings Saturday, as Sandoval kept on cruising while finding improved feel with his slider to mix with a devastating trademark changeup.

He didn’t allow a baserunner in the sixth or the seventh. In the eighth, he stranded his second hit-by-pitch with his 11th and 12th strikeouts, passing his previous career high of 10.

“I think tonight was just big, reinforcing all the work I’ve done with [pitching coaches] Matt Wise and Dom Chiti in the bullpen, almost every other day just working on my delivery,” Sandoval said. “Today, you saw it come to fruition with all that work. That’s what it’s supposed to look like every time I go out there.”

The Angels' Patrick Sandoval, right, is greeted by Shohei Ohtani in the dugout.
The Angels’ Patrick Sandoval, right, is greeted by Shohei Ohtani, left, in the dugout after leaving with two outs in the ninth inning. The left-hander struck out 13 and walked one. He hit two batters.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

He added: “I felt really good out there, just crisp and in sync with my delivery. That was the key as the game went on. I didn’t try too hard or try to do too much.”

The double by Rooker, a rookie outfielder with nine career hits who had only been recalled a day earlier after the Twins traded Nelson Cruz, was one of Sandoval’s few bad pitches, a slider that stayed over the middle of the plate.

Rooker didn’t make great contact, the ball leaving his bat at only 79.3 mph, but it found an open spot of grass anyway.

“Guys in the dugout were saying it didn’t really look like he knew where it went,” Sandoval said. “Obviously, it made me a little bit more bummed about it. Just one pitch that got away.”

Sandoval wanted to stay in and complete the ninth, but Maddon went with Iglesias — who had been warming up since the start of the inning — two batters later to set up a couple righty-righty matchups against the heart of the Twins’ order.

“Obviously, he knew I didn’t want to come out,” Sandoval said. “He felt bad taking me out, it looked like. But … I’m all right. We got the win. That’s all that matters.”

And when he walked off the mound for the final time, Sandoval was met with a standing ovation from the opposing crowd — proper recognition of his personal-best big league night.

“This is just the beginning. It’s not the finished product,” Maddon said, adding: “He’ll be back in that situation again someday. When he gets everything going on like he had tonight, you can see more of that.”

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Angels win 2-1 after Patrick Sandoval’s no-hit bid is broken up in ninth inning

The Angels' Patrick Sandoval pitches against the Minnesota Twins on July 24, 2021, in Minneapolis.
Angels left-hander Patrick Sandoval’s no-hit bid ended with one out in the ninth inning. He gave up one run and one hit in 8-2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking one. He hit two batters.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS — A recap of Patrick Sandoval’s near no-hitter in the Angels’ 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Top 1st — Angels score on wacky play, lead 2-0: The Angels scored quickly Saturday, and they got a little help from the Twins’ defense to do it.

After Shohei Ohtani, coming off a day off Friday, roped a double into right-center field in his first at-bat, Justin Upton hit a ground ball to shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

Simmons fielded the ball quickly and zipped a throw to second base, hoping to catch Ohtani off the bag. Ohtani stepped back safely, however, leaving second baseman Jorge Polanco little time to try to fire a throw to first to get Upton.

His throw was slightly wide but still within first baseman Miguel Sanó's reach. But Sanó missed it, the ball sailing past his glove and into the Twins’ dugout, which by rule allowed Ohtani to go all the way home and Upton to take second.

Two batters later, José Iglesias added to the lead with an RBI double to left field.

End 5th — Patrick Sandoval yet to allow hit; Angels lead 2-0: Almost two times through the Twins’ order, Patrick Sandoval has still not given up a hit.

Only three Twins have reached base overall — one via a second-inning walk, one via a fourth-inning hit by pitch and one via a fifth-inning error — while seven have struck out.

Sandoval’s pitch count is at 65.

End 6th — Sandoval still has no-hit bid; Angels lead 2-0: Sandoval retired the side in order in the sixth, picking up two more strikeouts to raise his total on the night to nine.

He has thrown 79 pitches so far.

End 7th — Sandoval still hasn’t allowed a hit; Angels lead 2-0: Sandoval retired the side in order in the seventh on just 11 pitches, raising his pitch count to 90. His career high for pitches in a game is 114.

End 8th — Sandoval keeps no-no intact; Angels lead 2-0: Three outs to go for Sandoval.

He hit another batter in the eighth but struck out the next two and ended the inning by inducing a groundout.

He has still not given up a hit and has thrown 100 pitches.

Bottom 9th — Sandoval’s no-hit bid is broken up, but Angels win 2-1: Sandoval came two outs shy of the 12th no-hitter in Angels history. With one out, Brent Rooker lined a double down the right-field line, the Twins’ first hit of the night.

Sandoval got one more out before leaving the game in favor of Raisel Iglesias. Iglesias gave up an RBI double to Josh Donaldson but then ended the game by striking out Sanó.

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Jaime Barria to pitch for Angels on Sunday

Jaime Barria pitches for the Angels on Sept. 23, 2020, in San Diego.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS — Manager Joe Maddon said left-hander Jaime Barria will probably start for the Angels in Sunday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins, though it’s possible the team could use an opener before him too.

Barria has been with the team in Minnesota the last couple of days but still hasn’t been officially added to the active roster.

The Angels needed to fill the open spot in the rotation after they decided to push Shohei Ohtani’s next start back to Monday in order to give him an extra day of rest.

Sunday will only be Barria’s third big league appearance this season. In 10 games with triple-A Salt Lake this season, he has a 4.41 ERA.

Angels minor league players gave a “deeply disturbing” description of life in the minors, which an advocacy group says needs to be addressed.

“This guy’s got really good pitchability,” Maddon said. “Talking to him, he’s very confident right now. He looks better. I think he lost a couple pounds. He is definitely capable of being on a major league [roster].”

Maddon said the club hasn’t discussed whether Barria will get a chance to remain with the Angels following Sunday’s game. It could depend on the status of Alex Cobb’s blister, which Maddon didn’t immediately have an update on before Saturday’s game.

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Alex Cobb discusses trade deadline after Angels stumble in 5-4 loss to Twins

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Alex Cobb winds up duirng the first inning of the team's baseball game.
Angels starter Alex Cobb left Friday night’s start early because of a blister.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS — Alex Cobb didn’t sound too concerned about the blister that forced him to leave his start early Friday night.

It was the Angels’ latest frustrating defeat that left him more unsure of the future — both regarding his team’s fate for the rest of the season and his own ahead of next week’s trade deadline.

Earlier on Friday, the Angels seemed to be headed toward an important win against the Minnesota Twins.

Even with struggling Jared Walsh and Shohei Ohtani out of the lineup against Twins left-hander J.A. Happ, the Angels scored three runs in the first inning, including two on a home run by Kurt Suzuki, and another in the second on a solo blast by Jack Mayfield.

Cobb had thrown only 79 pitches through five innings, yielding just two runs.

And the Angels’ defense was looking sharp for a second consecutive night.

Then it all fell apart.

Highlights from the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night in Minneapolis.

Cobb left the game unexpectedly before the bottom of the sixth inning because of a right index finger blister. The Angels’ bullpen let the Twins claw back within one. Then the defense faltered too, as left fielder Juan Lagares and Suzuki combined for a sloppy eighth-inning play in which the Twins’ tying and go-ahead runs scored in an eventual 5-4 win at Target Field.

Instead of getting back to .500, the Angels dropped to 47-49. Since going on a 22-13 run between late May and early July to get back into contention, they have suffered a 3-7 stretch in which their postseason hopes have faded again.

And for players such as Cobb, who is on an expiring contract and could be suited by other clubs in the next week, it has led to a precarious position: wanting to stay in Anaheim and help the Angels make a late-season push but also knowing he could be somewhere else very soon.

“Obviously, I know that’s a possibility, when you’re on an expiring contract and you’re pitching decently, that teams are going to come asking,” Cobb said. “But I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. I love it here. I would love to stay here. Right now, it’s still focusing on us winning ballgames and hopefully acquiring somebody.”

Angels minor league players gave a “deeply disturbing” description of life in the minors, which an advocacy group says needs to be addressed.

Results such as Friday’s, however, are making the latter approach an ever-tougher sell.

With the Angels leading 4-2 going into the bottom of the sixth, Cobb took the mound but couldn’t get through his warmup pitches, a blister on his right index finger forcing him to call for a trainer and suddenly leave the game.

“It’s definitely not serious,” Cobb said, adding he could have stayed in the game but didn’t want to risk making it worse. “It’s something that’s annoying. I’ll find out tomorrow or the next day after that if I’ll need a day or two. It’s not gonna be anything long.”

His early exit left the Angels’ bullpen, however, with too many outs to get.

Steve Cishek came on in relief in the sixth and gave up a run. Tony Watson pitched a scoreless seventh but was removed after issuing a leadoff walk in the eighth to Miguel Sanó. Raisel Iglesias was then summoned to try and get a six-out save.

Iglesias retired the first batter he faced but gave up a single to Nick Gordon in the following at-bat.

A self-described ‘streaky’ pitcher, the Angels’ Andrew Heaney found rhythm and confidence during a seven-inning outing against the Minnesota Twins.

Ryan Jeffers came to the plate next and lined a base hit into left field. Lagares fielded it and tried to make a throw home to get Sanó, but it was off target and pulled Suzuki well wide of the plate.

As Sanó scored, Gordon made a break for third that forced Suzuki to misfire a hurried throw, a wide toss that sent the ball bouncing back to Lagares in the outfield as Gordon got to his feet and sprinted for the plate.

Lagares once again failed to get his throw home on time, with Suzuki applying the tag a split-second too late.

The two runs, which were both ruled as earned runs because the next batter put the ball in play, gave the Twins (42-56) their first lead of the night. It handed Iglesias his fourth blown save in 24 tries. And it sunk the Angels a little further in the standings, leaving them eight games out of a playoff spot with five teams still to catch.

The Twins' Nick Gordon slides past Angels catcher Kurt Suzuki for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
(Adam Bettcher / Getty Images)

That’s why, when Cobb was asked about the trade deadline postgame, he couldn’t brush off the possibility of being dealt in the next seven days.

He tried to stay optimistic, noting one of his past teams with the Tampa Bay Rays overcame a big deficit in the standings to make the playoffs.

But for the Angels to do the same this year, they need to avoid losses like Friday’s. Instead, right now they seem to be piling up on them.

“Games like these, it’s tough to see that,” Cobb said. “But, we have some big guys coming back. I was with the Rays when we were nine games back in September and made a push and made it. I’d rather focus on that than what could possibly happen if we’re not in it.”

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Angels lose to Twins 5-4; Alex Cobb exits with blister

MINNEAPOLIS — Updates from the Angels loss to the Twins...

Top 1st — Kurt Suzuki homers, Angels lead 3-0: With Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh left out of the starting lineup against Twins left-hander J.A. Happ, Phil Gosselin and José Iglesias ascended into the Nos. 2 and 3 spots in the batting order.

Their first time up, they delivered.

Gosselin hit a double off the top of the right-field wall. Iglesias drove him home with a single in the next at-bat. And two batters later, it set up Kurt Suzuki for a two-run home run inside the left-field foul pole.

Top 2nd — Jack Mayfield homers, Angels lead 4-0: The Angels got another surprise contribution in the second inning, as Jack Mayfield hammered his second home run in as many nights. This time, it was a solo blast that added to the Angels’ early lead.

Bottom 3rd — Twins on the board, Angels lead 4-1: After leaving the bases loaded against Alex Cobb in the first inning and going down in order in the second, the Twins finally broke through in the third when Jorge Polanco doubled and later scored on an RBI single from Trevor Larnach.

Bottom 5th — Twins score again, but Angels’ defense comes up big to keep lead at 4-2: The Twins have cut the Angels’ once four-run lead in half, but it could have been a lot worse.

Max Kepler hit a leadoff single in the fifth and advanced to second on a bad pickoff throw from Cobb. Polanco followed with a base hit of his own to put runners on the corners. And with no outs, Josh Donaldson hit a hard ground ball down the third base line that looked like it might break the inning open.

Instead, Mayfield made a diving stop behind the bag and initiated a key double play. One run still scored (it was unearned because of Cobb’s error), but Cobb was able to end the inning in the next at-bat.

Highlights from the Angels’ 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night in Minneapolis.

Bottom 6th — Alex Cobb leaves with apparent finger issue, Angels’ lead trimmed to 4-3: After throwing a warmup pitch during the bottom of the sixth inning, Alex Cobb signaled for the trainer and left the game with what the team later said was a right index finger blister.

The TV broadcast showed Cobb inspecting his right index finger after throwing the pitch.

Cobb has battled blister issues throughout his career, including an injured list stint earlier this season for a right middle finger blister that cost him two starts in May. His final line Friday: five innings, two runs (one earned), seven hits, one walk, four strikeouts.

Steve Cishek entered in Cobb’s place and gave up a run but kept the lead intact after picking off a baserunner and stranding a two-out double.

Bottom 8th — Twins take 5-4 lead on Angels defensive blunder: The Angels were having a good defensive series in Minnesota. Then the bottom of the eighth happened.

After Tony Watson walked Miguel Sanó and Raisel Iglesias — summoned for a six-out save opportunity — gave up a single to Nick Gordon, Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and lined a base hit into left field.

Outfielder Juan Lagares fielded it and tried to make a throw home to get Sanó, but it was off target and pulled the catcher, Suzuki, well wide of the plate.

The play wasn’t over. As Sanó scored, Gordon made a break for third. Suzuki tried to quickly fire the ball to José Iglesias at the bag but pulled it wide, sending the ball back to Lagares in the outfield as Gordon got to his feet and sprinted for the plate.

Once again, Lagares’ throw didn’t get there in time, with Suzuki applying the tag a split-second too late.

The two runs (which were both ruled as earned runs because the Twins put the ball in play in the next at-bat) gave the Twins their first lead of the night.

Final — Twins win 5-4: The Angels couldn’t make a comeback in the ninth, stranding a one-out single by David Fletcher to lose and drop to 47-49 on the season.

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Angels players show support for protests in Cuba

MINNEAPOLIS — Several Angels players, as well as manager Joe Maddon, made a statement before Friday’s game by taking the field for pregame warmups wearing matching shirts in support of recent anti-government protests in Cuba.

“Everybody’s aware of what’s happening in Cuba right now,” said Angels shortstop and Cuba native José Iglesias, who helped organize the Angels’ T-shirt demonstration.

“I just try to create awareness around the world. People are suffering down there. The regime is suppressing people. We just want a free people, a free Cuba, free speech. That’s what this movement is — to create awareness around the world and help the Cuban people.”

The shirts featured a Cuban and U.S. flag in the center.

Above them read the words, “Patria y vida,” or homeland and life — the name of a song that has become associated with the protests.

Printed below the flag was the phrase “Viva Cuba libre,” long live free Cuba.

In addition to Iglesias and Maddon, the other members of the Angels to wear the shirts Friday included closer and fellow Cuba native Raisel Iglesias, Colombian-born pitcher José Quintana, and Venezuelan natives Luis Rengifo and Junior Guerra.

José Iglesias said he had more shirts ordered to arrive Monday for other teammates too.

“All this stuff is important,” Maddon said. “It needs to be addressed. We’re talking about the situation in Cuba right now, so I wanted to really support my guys. Because I’m a strong believer in their cause.”

For the last couple weeks, there have been nationwide protests in Cuba against the country’s communist regime over poor living conditions and a lack of basic freedoms.

Iglesias, who defected from Cuba in 2008 and is in 10th major league season, said it has been frustrating to see what is happening in his home country, where most of his family, including his mom and siblings, still lives.

Iglesias has also written "#SOSCuba” — a social media hashtag supporting the movement — on his cap.

“I want my family to be free [as well as] the whole country,” he said.

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Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh not in Angels’ lineup Friday vs. Twins left-hander J.A. Happ

The Angels' Shohei Ohtani heads to bat in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins on July 22, 2021.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is just four for 24 in his last six games with one home run, 14 strikeouts and three walks.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

MINNEAPOLIS — For only the second time this year, the Angels will field a lineup Friday that won’t include Shohei Ohtani or Jared Walsh.

While the two All-Stars helped carry the Angels during the first half of the season, they’ve gone cold since returning from the Midsummer Classic.

Ohtani is just four for 24 in his last six games with one home run, 14 strikeouts and three walks.

Walsh is five for 27 in that span with no home runs, eight strikeouts and no walks.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said he picked Friday to rest the two left-handed sluggers because the Twins will start left-hander J.A. Happ on the mound.

Maddon also saw it as an opportunity to give Juan Lagares and Phil Gosselin needed playing time and allow Justin Upton, who is playing his second game since returning from a back injury, to get a day as designated hitter.

A self-described ‘streaky’ pitcher, the Angels’ Andrew Heaney found rhythm and confidence during a seven-inning outing against the Minnesota Twins.

“It’s a perfect example of the schedule dictating maybe some of the things you should do,” Maddon said.

While Ohtani has strong numbers against left-handers this season, Walsh is batting only .164 against them with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .551.

The pair’s slow start to the second half has caused an already short-handed Angels lineup to struggle in the last week. In their last four games entering Friday, the Angels have scored just eight combined runs.

Still, Maddon hasn’t sounded worried about either player.

Asked on Thursday night about Ohtani’s struggles, Maddon said the two-way star was “just late getting started a little bit [and] he’s chasing stuff, that’s what I’ve concluded. When he was getting really hot, he was accepting his walks right and left. I think he’s just getting too big, trying to cover too many different things. He’ll get that back and become a little bit more finite with the strike zone.”

Unlike Walsh, Ohtani also participated in the home run derby during the All-Star break, an event that some past participants have cited as a contributing factor to second-half slumps.

Maddon, however, downplayed those concerns. Earlier this week, Ohtani also declined to blame the derby for his recent slump.

“I don’t personally feel tiredness or anything from the derby,” Ohtani said Monday. “I’ve had a few at-bats where I felt like I was really close again to hitting the ball hard.”

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Angels beat Twins 3-2 behind Andrew Heaney’s start, Jack Mayfield’s three-run home run

Andrew Heaney threw seven strong innings for the Angels on Thursday.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

MINNESOTA — Live updates from the Angels series opener against the Minnesota Twins...

Bottom 2nd — Angels execute relay play, no score: The Twins nearly took an early lead in the second inning, when Gilbert Celestino lined a double into the left field corner with Trevor Larnach at first.

Larnach was waived home, but thrown at the plate after a perfectly executed relay play between left fielder Justin Upton, shortstop José Iglesias and catcher Max Stassi.

Stassi and Larnach collided at the plate, with Stassi losing the ball after appearing to get hit in the head. With both players shaken up on the ground, the home plate umpire signaled that the play was still live, leading Larnach to lunge for the plate but not before Stassi tagged him again.

Both players stayed in the game.

Bottom 4th — Twins take 2-0 lead: The Twins did eventually strike first by scoring two runs in the fourth. Miguel Sanó led off with a double. Larnach walked on four pitches. Then Willians Astudillo doubled to open the scoring. Celestino hit a ground ball in the next at-bat that scored Larnach, but then Angels starter Andrew Heaney escaped the inning.

Top 5th — Jack Mayfield homers, Angels lead 3-2: After José Iglesias doubled (his second of the game) and Adam Eaton singled, Jack Mayfield came to the plate and initially tried to bunt in a 1-1 count.

His attempt was poor, a pop up that landed in the seats behind the Twins dugout.

Three pitches later, however, he made up for it, smoking a three-run homer into the left field seats to give the Angels the lead.

Bottom 8th — Heaney exits, Angels defense comes up big again: After seven strong innings and 102 pitches, Andrew Heaney’s night came to an end after seven innings. His final line: 7 ip, 2 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks (+1 hit by pitch), 7 strikeouts, 102 pitches.

Mike Mayers came in to pitch the eighth and got a lot of help from his defense.

His first batter, Jorge Polanco, was throw out by right fielder Adam Eaton while trying to stretch a single into a double.

The next batter, Max Kepler, pulled up at first after Eaton made a good cut-off in the right-center field gap.

And two pitches later, Josh Donaldson rolled into an inning ending double-play turned by shortstop José Iglesias and second baseman David Fletcher.

Final — Angels win 3-2: Raisel Iglesias finished the game by picking up his 20th save, and the Angels improved to 47-48.

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GM Perry Minasian on trade deadline; Justin Upton returns; Shohei Ohtani’s next start

MINNEAPOLIS — Earlier this month, Angels general manager Perry Minasian spoke optimistically about his team’s playoff chances, even leaving open the possibility that the club could go after “rental” players on expiring contracts before the July 30 trade deadline.

Eight games later, his team hasn’t helped its cause, dropping three straight series against American League West opponents to enter Thursday 10 ½ games back in the division standings and 7 ½ out of the second wild card spot.

So, has this recent slide changed Minasian’s thinking approaching the deadline?

“Not necessarily,” he said Thursday, speaking to reporters before the Angels opened a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins. “It’s just based upon opportunities. The farther you drop back, obviously the harder it is to add short-term pieces. As we sit here today, we’re still in the mix.”

As he’s said all year, Minasian reiterated that he doesn’t consider the Angels as either a “buyer” or “seller,” instead preferring to approach the deadline looking for opportunities to improve the club in both the short and long term.

Minasian also said he’s hopeful the Angels can make a late-season push once they get Mike Trout (right calf strain) and Anthony Rendon (left hamstring strain) back from the injured list. Both players traveled with the Angels to Minnesota and are expected back within the next couple weeks, though exact return dates have yet to be determined.

Trout, who still needs to go on a rehab assignment, did more pregame work Thursday. He ran the bases, did drills in the outfield and took batting practice with the rest of the team.

Minasian said the club is still deciding if Rendon will need a rehab assignment too.

Upton returns

After missing the team’s past 21 games with a right low back strain, Justin Upton was reinstated from the injured list Thursday and returned to the Angels lineup in their series-opener against the Twins.

Upton batted third, with the streaking David Fletcher continuing to hold down the team’s leadoff spot.

Before he got hurt, Upton was doing well as the club’s leadoff hitter. In 25 games between May 23 and June 22, he was batting .326 with six home runs and 15 RBIs. On the season, he has a .247 average.

Ohtani’s next start

Shohei Ohtani won’t make his next start until the Angels return home next week, likely on Monday against the Colorado Rockies.

After Ohtani last pitched this past Monday against the Oakland A’s, Angels manager Joe Maddon said the team wanted to give him an extra day of rest. The team has yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s game.

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